Amaud Jamaul Johnson

The Manassa Mauler

(July 4, 1919)


The peach of Willard’s face
split wide, ran sweet
and sticky on Dempsey’s gloves.
Canvas met the lumbering
burden of his body
seven times.


By the end of the first,
blood, sweat and saliva
pooled at their feet, swirled like
dashes of hot sauce in a bucket
of egg whites, fell first in drops
then by the drum.


Across a field of straw
hats and seersucker suits,
Toledo’s finest, wet with
Willard’s insides. One woman,


genteel in dress, leaned forward
with her lace handkerchief
and asked the referee for a tooth.


Dempsey’s now freckled face,
calm and careful as a butcher’s
before the final chop.